• 28Feb

    Even chefs can get into a routine. Though I constantly search for new dishes for my personal chef clients sometimes I get to making the same things at home. Lentils are a favorite staple in our house. I usually make soup but had a request from one of my clients for a lentil salad. She even bought the lentils (little black ‘beluga’ lentils) complete with recipe on the back of the package. It’s got yogurt in it so it’s not dairy-free but tasty nonetheless so here is the recipe with a few adjustments:

    Curried Lentil Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Apples

    3/4 c lentils (you can use any kind: beluga, french green, brown…)

    1/2 c yogurt (my favorites: Strauss or Pavel’s – go for the whole full fat!)

    2 Tb lemon juice (apple cider vinegar would make a good sub)

    2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced

    1 medium apple, diced with skin (any variety)

    3/4 c walnuts, toasted and chopped

    1/2 c raisins (any type: thompson, currants, golden…)

    1 tsp curry powder

    sea salt and pepper to taste

    If you can, soak lentils overnight to aid in digestion and shorten the cooking time. Cook the lentils until just tender in any type of broth or water. It should take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the type. Drain and cool. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings and you are Done!

    This salad would also be great with diced celery, diced jicama and/or grated carrot. Maybe crispy Asian or Bosc pear in place of the apple? Vary the nuts, mmm pine nuts or …sub cranberries for the raisins …be creative, use what you have on hand. I’ll be serving it up with one variation or another (with yogurt on the side for those that are dairy free.)

  • 26Feb

    Quite awhile back I wrote of my adventures with a quickly multiplying mushroom. We cut back now to one batch every 10 days or so which is much more manageable – we even have a few jars to pass on to our BIL who swears that it helps him power through his bike rides.

    I thought I would post a few helpful hints on successfully fermenting your own with a few pic’s on the process…

    First – cleanliness is a must. You want to make sure you wash your hands (remove rings) and clean all work surfaces so that you do not contaminate your brew with who knows what.

    Of course you will need a kombucha mushroom and a bit of kombucha tea as a starter. If you know of anyone who ferments their own tea you can probably ask them for a ‘baby’ (most will be more than happy to pass one along) or you can order them online.

    Equipment you will need:

    a 3 quart clear glass bowl

    a fine woven towel to cover the bowl (flour sack towels work great)

    masking tape and a few rubber bands

    Now, make a batch of tea – boil 3 quarts of water. When it comes to a boil, add 1 cup of granulated sugar – plain old sugar. Bring back to a boil and put in 4 tea bags – you can use any unflavored black or green tea. I use 2 spoons each of organic green and black tea in a giant tea ball. Bring back to a boil. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the tea steep for about 20 minutes, remove the tea bags (or tea ball.)

    Let the tea cool to room temp. I find this usually takes all day so I make the tea in the morning and do the next part in the evening.

    Pour the un-fermented tea into the bowl and lay the mushroom light side up:

    Pour about 2 cups of fermented tea on top of the mushroom. This is the starter to make sure things get fermenting along.

    Put masking tape on the bowl to keep the towel from dipping in:

    Make a big round rubber band by connecting a few together. I use a twist tie to connect them into a big circle:

    Using a flour sack towel, cover the bowl and fasten the rubber bands around the rim:

    It’s important to use a tightly woven towel (NOT cheese cloth) to keep fruit flies from entering.

    Now just set the bowl in a safe out of the way place for 7-12 days to ferment away. With the cool winter weather, it’s been taking about 10 days for our batches to brew to our desired puckeriness. You can scoop out a bit with a clean shot glass for a taste after about 7 days until it has fermented to your tastes.

    The mushroom will make a baby with each batch. For the next batch I use the ‘mother’ and either give away the baby or put into the compost. For the starter, I just use some of the newly fermented tea.

    Have fun!

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  • 25Feb

    Wednesday’s New York Times featured an article by Mark Bittman on easy puddings. Since I was having a dinner party Friday night and wanted a simple dessert I thought I would try out the chocolate pudding recipe – only without the milk.

    In place of the milk I used a 50/50 blend of homemade nut milk and coconut milk. Since coconut milk has a natural sweetness I halved the sugar. I toyed with subbing the sugar with something more healthy but figured this was dessert so I splurged. As my Mom says, “It’s just a little bit…only once a year!” I only had semi sweet chocolate on hand so that’s what I used – next time I would use a really dark chocolate.

    The dinner guests loved it. Here’s the recipe:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Chocolate Pudding – No Dairy

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 1/2 cups nut milk — or coconut milk or combination
    1/3 cup sugar — more or less to taste – you can sub sucanat, rapadura or stevia
    3 tablespoons cornstarch — organic (add another Tb if you like a thick pudding) – other thickeners may also work but may take some experimenting
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 ounces dark chocolate — chopped into small pieces

    Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a 3 quart sauce pan. Put over medium heat and continue to whisk until thick and bubbling.

    Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chocolate. Divide into 6 small cups.

    Cover tops with a small piece of parchment to avoid having a skin form. Skip this step if you like the skin. Refrigerate.

    Serve chilled.

    “Based on recipe in the NYT by Mark Bittman Feb 21, 2007”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Permalink Filed under: General, Recipe development, Recipes Comments Off on Easy Pudding
  • 24Feb

    so versatile the garbanzo aka chick pea aka cicci aka channa. It comes in so many forms and participates in so many cuisines.

    A new Indian restaurant opened up a few blocks away – Flavors of India. We’ve been there four times now and give it a double thumbs up! The service is great – warm and friendly. The food is so flavorful and delicately spiced, not overly greasy. The naan breads are soft with a nice chewiness to them. I am so happy!

    One of my favorite appetizers is the Pakora – chunks of vegetables coated in a spicy batter made from garbanzo flour, then deep fried. They serve this with a trio of mint chutney, fiery pickled ‘something’ and my all time favorite tamarind chutney. It is always difficult to decide between the Pakoras or the Samosas.

    As you may recall I love Socca’s which are also made of garbanzo flour. I’d been meaning to try out the Indian version of the garbanzo (gram or besan) flour pancake called Pudla or Chilla. So when I was trying to decide a menu for a dinner party last night I decided to make a variation of the Pudla. I had in mind the pakora and Korean vegetable pancakes (Buchim). I also wanted to serve these with a tamarind chutney. So basically a pudla with lots of veggies in the batter.

    Here is a pic of one of the pancakes frying:

    and a fuzzy one of the pancake flipped over:

    Here is the recipe for the Pudla along with a recipe for the Tamarind Chutney:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Indian Chickpea Pancake with Vegetables – Pudla or Chilla

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 cups garbanzo (aka gram or besan) flour
    1 3/4 cups water
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon cumin seed — toasted and ground
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper — more if you like it spicy
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 small zucchini — cut in halve lengthwise and thinly sliced
    1/2 small red pepper — cut into thin 1 1/2-2″ strips
    1/2 medium red onion — thinly julienned
    1 medium jalapeno pepper — finely diced
    3 tablespoons cilanto — chopped
    vegetable oil

    Mix first nine ingredients (up to the black pepper) in a 3 quart mixing bowl – whisk into a smooth batter. Batter should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter while a tad thicker than a crepe batter.

    Fold in remaining ingredients.

    Heat a 10″ cast iron pan – or other nonstick pan with 1-2 T of vegetable (I like grape seed) oil. Use about 4-5 fl. oz for each pancake. Fry each side until golden brown. Remove to a rack on a sheet pan while you cook the remaining pancakes. These can be made ahead and heated in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.

    Serve hot with tamarind and/or mint chutney.

    I know I wasn’t being very seasonal with my choice of veggies. I like the red onion and red pepper but any other vegetable would be great – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms…

    Here is the chutney recipe which is based on a google recipe search along with a recipe from this site

    Tamarind Chutney

    Amount* Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate — Note this is the Indian type of concentrated tamarind – it’s very thick and dark like molasses.
    6 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon cumin seed — roasted and ground
    1 teaspoon ginger root — grated
    1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper
    1/2 teaspoon black salt — Indian black salt which is actually pink – smells like sulfur (or rotten eggs!)
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    *The quantities of the ingredients can be varied depending on how spicy or sweet or sour you like your chutney.

    Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months.


  • 23Feb

    Talk about the power of suggestion… I was over at my fiddle teacher’s house the other day for band practice and she had a package of Thomas English Muffins on her counter…at least I think it was at her house I saw them. In any case, those crispy nooks and crannies set me on to the path of “must make english muffin.” So here they are…

    I started with a recipe from this blog. They were a lot easier to make than I thought. Nice because you don’t have to use the oven – these are cooked entirely on the stove with a cooking time of less than 15 minutes.

    To my taste they were a bit too sweet and not salty enough so the following recipe has those adjustments. I also wanted to add some fiber so used whole wheat for part of the dough. I think these would also make nice burger buns which has been my latest craving…reminder to defrost some of that grass fed ground beef sitting in the deep dark corner of the freezer.

    Next time I may try out a cinnamon raisin version. When I was a kid, I loved to toast up cinnamon raisin english muffins with a slice of Kraft American ‘cheese’ on top…those were the days of ignorant bliss…

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    English Muffins – Sourdough

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    1/2 cup sourdough starter
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour — more as needed
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon sea salt

    Combine starter with 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Stir thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight on your kitchen counter (about 7-10 hours).

    Add the baking soda, salt, sugar to the dough and gradually add the 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons at a time. Dough should be sticky but workable. You can use more or less flour as needed. The looser the dough the more holey the muffin.

    Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface and pat out to about ½ inch thick. Use a lightly floured 3″ biscuit cutter to cut the dough. You can press together the scraps to make more rounds

    Place rounds on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Leave enough space between each round so they don’t spread and stick together. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cornmeal and leave them to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel, until doubled in size. Any where between 45 minutes and 1 1/2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

    Heat a cast iron skillet (or other type of non-stick pan) over medium heat until hot.

    Cook the muffins for about 5-7 minutes on each side, turning only once. The muffins should be a medium brown so adjust heat as needed.

    Transfer to a rack to cool.


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  • 19Feb

    Change is a slow process…Due to a food sensitivity to the milk protein casein I’ve been wanting to eliminate dairy from my diet for at least a year. I have been successful in spurts only…can’t shake that darn cheese…

    Besides the cheese, one hurdle has been to find a suitable substitute for the milk/cream that I like to put in my chai and coffee. Forget all the packaged milk substitutes out there…soy is no good as I am sensitive to that too. The rest? Almond and Rice ‘milks’ are not ‘creamy’ enough and taste horrible. Plus I don’t like the fact that all of these ‘milks’ are fortified with vitamin D2 aka ergocalciferol. D2 is the synthetic version of vitamin D and has been implicated in calcification of soft tissues – like the lining of your arteries ( Buist RA. Vitamin Toxicities, Side Effects and Contraindications. International Clinical Nutrition Review 4(4), 159-171, 1984.) I much prefer the natural version – D3 (cholecalciferol.)

    My high powered K-Tec blender to the rescue 🙂

    I’ve read recipes for DIY nut milks and they always seems like so much work…soaking, blanching, blending, straining…ugh who has time for all that! So I streamlined the process and have a jar of nut milk in a matter of minutes.

    First I soften the nuts. Put a mix of about 1/2 a cup of mostly organic unroasted blanched cashews, a few organic raw natural almonds and a few brazil nuts in 3/4 cup of filtered water in a 3 cup jar. Put this in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I drain and rinse off the nuts and pour into my K-Tec blender with 3/4 cup of filtered water. Then blend on the highest setting for 30 seconds. I add another  1 1/2 to 2 cups of water and blend on high for another 30 seconds. Pour back into the jar and back in the refrigerator. Shake well before using. I use this neutrally flavored creamy concoction as a sub in any recipe calling for milk or cream.

    Bonus…this nut milk is chock full of needed minerals like magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, calcium and phosphorous. And antioxidants like vitamin E along with good fats like oleic acid (same as found in olive oil) to promote good heart health.

    Drink Up!

    Permalink Filed under: General, Nutrition & diet, Recipes Comments Off on Nuts for Milk
  • 18Feb

    A cool article in the NYT a few weeks ago highlighted the ancient flavor enhancing and food preserving technique of smoking. Bonus – the article cited research that says smoking is relatively safe compared to BBQ since you do not char the food. It’s the burnt bits of meat that are implicated in cancers.

    I do love lightly smoked foods – especially using the Chinese technique of smoking foods with tea.

    For our Chinese New Year’s family dinner last night I made tea smoked duck legs. I’m proud to say that Mom declared them “really good.” While I don’t have a formally measured out recipe here is a sketch for the benefit of dear sis (who made incredible seared diver scallops with black bean sauce and a red bean mochi cake – yum! And sil made the traditional Korean New Year dumpling (mandu) and rice noodle (duk) soup…double yum!)

    I marinated eight duck legs overnight with Shao Hsing wine, soy, sea salt, five spice, grated ginger, some orange peels and a pinch of allspice.

    For the smoking mix I combined 1/4 c each brown rice, brown sugar and oolong tea (other teas that would work: jasmine, lychee) with a broken up 3″ cinnamon stick, 2 broken up star anise, 8 cloves, a few pieces of orange peels and a big pinch of chili flakes.

    For my smoker I used a disposable aluminum half hotel pan with a rack. I place the smoking mix directly on the bottom of the pan and laid a loose piece of foil over the smoking mix to prevent the duck drippings from falling directly onto the smoking mix. I put the rack over this and lay the duck legs on the rack. Then I sealed the pan with foil.

    I happen to have a portable stove so did the smoking part outside – key to avoiding divorce court since we don’t have an exhaust hood! I put the pan onto the burner on high heat. When I saw a few whisps of smoke escape from the edges of my smoker I turned down the heat to medium and smoked for 25 minutes. Then I turned off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

    Phew! This is a lot of work!

    Ok now I took the duck legs and coated in this glaze: 1/4 c hoisin sauce, 2 T pomegranate molasses (a good sub is 1 T honey), 1/2 tsp of grated ginger, 1/4 tsp of ground sichuan peppercorns, 1 tsp of orange zest, a splash of soy, a splash of balsamic and sriracha chili sauce to taste. Really, any favorite glaze will do here.

    The final step: Finishing in the oven. I put the duck legs on a rack on a sheet pan and roasted in an 300F oven for 45 minutes to an hour. This step is to finish cooking the duck legs while rendering some of the duck fat and crisping up the skin. Sometimes I will put under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the skin if the skin is a tad too light. After removing from the oven I brushed on some more glaze.

    These were a bit hard to serve for a family style dinner – I just separated the thigh from the leg and put on a platter. No one was shy though and just grabbed a leg or thigh and started chomping away.

    I’ve done this with salmon (leaving out the finishing in the oven step, just brush on some glaze after it comes out of the smoker) cornish game hens and pork ribs. Next time I am going to use boneless duck breast from Liberty Ducks which I saw up at Baron Meats on Claremont Ave in Berkeley.

  • 18Feb

    it’s peanut butter again but inspired by a traditional Chinese pastry that we only have during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. Here is one version. My Mom makes hers using special wrappers from New Hong Kong Noodle Company in San Francisco. I think they are called ‘Sui Gok’ wrappers – the are round like ‘sui gow’ wrappers but thinner. These are filled with a roasted peanut, shredded coconut, toasted sesame and brown sugar mixture. Then they are fried in peanut oil until they are crispy brown and the sugar in the filling has melted coating the insides. We look forward to this treat every year.

    This year I decided to make a cookie based on ‘Gok Doy’ so here it is:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    New Year Peanut Sesame Cookie

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 30 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    1/4 pound slightly chilled unsalted butter — diced
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 large egg
    3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (6.75 wt oz)
    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    3/4 cup brown or white rice flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    3/4 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
    3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

    Preheat oven to 350F

    Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg then peanut butter. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and mix to a smooth dough. Now stir in by hand the sesame seeds and coconut – mix well.

    Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop (#70), form the dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment (or silicon mat.) Flatten the balls or shape into little crescents. They should be about 1/4″ thick. Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Next time out I will adjust the recipe to leave out the egg to go for a more ‘shortbread’ texture.
    Don’t pig out!

    Happy New Year! The Year of the Golden Pig!

  • 17Feb

    I’ve been craving Japanese style curry! But I wanted to make this from scratch because the packaged curry paste seemed too scary with all the MSG and other stuff. After searching high and low I based this recipe off of Saveur’s February 2007 issue. Though made a few changes 😉

    I made this vegetarian with some veg broth, water and shiitakes instead of chicken and it still came out good! Ha ha. For me, I served it with some sauteed fish and brown rice…had it for dinner last night, breakfast and lunch today! I’m gonna turn yellow from all the turmeric! I’m on my own with this pot of curry because it was a tad too hot for P.

    Other variations – add some coconut milk in place of some of the stock, add different veggies (zuchinni, sweet potato, winter squash, mushrooms.) Instead of chicken – use pork or beef (cook longer), shrimp or fish (cook separate from curry and serve with sauce on top). How about a few raisins thrown in? I used S & B brand curry – beware this is pretty hot even for the mild version.


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Curry Wafuu – Japanese Curry

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3 cups chicken stock or mix with water or sub vegetable broth
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 pound chicken thigh — cut in chunks
    salt and pepper
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 teaspoon ginger — minced
    1/2 medium onion — finely chopped
    1 clove garlic — minced
    2 tablespoons + 1 tsp flour (add another teaspoon or 2 if you like it thick)
    2 tablespoons curry powder — S & B Brand
    2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
    Remaining Ingredients
    1/2 medium onion — diced in 1″ pieces
    1 medium carrot — cut 1/2″ thick
    1 stalk celery — cut 1/2″ thick
    1 medium russet potato — cut in 1″ cubes
    1 small fuji or granny smith apple — peeled and grated
    1 each bay leaf
    1 teaspoon honey
    1 tablespoon soy sauce

    Heat chicken stock in a 3 to 4 quart pot.

    Salt and pepper chicken and saute in a skillet with oil. Remove from skillet and set aside.

    In same skillet, melt butter and saute fine chopped onion. When onions are light brown add ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until onion is caramelized – add more butter if needed.

    Sprinkle in flour and stir until browned.

    Add curry powder and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Be careful not to burn curry…ick.

    Remove from heat.

    Add 1/2 cup of hot stock and whisk, scrapping up browned bits.

    Pour into pot of chicken stock and whisk to thicken.

    Add onion, carrot, celery, potato, bay leaf, apple and chicken. Simmer low for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

    Add honey, soy and salt to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes.

    Serve over steamed brown rice.

    “Saveur 100 Feb 2007”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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